Rus­sian Dop­ing Fi­asco Con­tin­ues

Ma­jor Ram­i­fi­ca­tions from Mclaren Re­port, Part 2 In a dra­matic re­ver­sal, Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties stopped deny­ing wide­spread dop­ing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

SkiTrax - - Out In Front - By John Sy­mon

The fall­out con­tin­ues from the Rus­sian dop­ing scan­dal. This fol­lows the pub­li­ca­tion on Dec. 9 of the World Anti-dop­ing Agency's (WADA) Mclaren In­ves­ti­ga­tion Re­port, Part 2, re­lat­ing to al­le­ga­tions of sys­temic dop­ing in Rus­sia, es­pe­cially in con­nec­tion with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The Mclaren Re­port, Part 2 sug­gests that up to 1,000 ath­letes could have been in­volved in Rus­sia's mas­sive dop­ing scan­dal. Of th­ese, 28 Nordic ath­letes were high­lighted by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC), while it seems that some 31 biath­letes are listed within the pages of Mclaren's damn­ing re­port.

In late De­cem­ber, Swedish me­dia de­coded in­for­ma­tion in the Mclaren Re­port to ten­ta­tively iden­tify ath­letes be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, in­clud­ing top Rus­sian skiers Alexan­der Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Nikita Kriukov.

About the same time, in a dra­matic re­ver­sal, Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties stopped deny­ing wide­spread dop­ing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Anna Antse­liovich, act­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral of Rus­sia's na­tional anti-dop­ing agency, RUSADA, spoke of “an in­sti­tu­tional con­spir­acy,” but claimed that the gov­ern­ment's top of­fi­cials were not in­volved. And Vi­taly Smirnov, ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to reform the coun­try's anti-dop­ing sys­tem, ad­mits that “we made a lot of mis­takes.”

Soon af­ter the 2017 Cross-coun­try World Cup fi­nals, orig­i­nally sched­uled for the Siberian city of Tyu­men were awarded to Que­bec City, Que. in Canada to be held March 17-19, mark­ing the sec­ond time in his­tory that the FIS Cross-coun­try World Cup fi­nals have been held on this side of the At­lantic. The in­au­gu­ral oc­ca­sion was in Can­more, Alta. in 2016.

Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth/ju­nior World Cham­pi­onships 2017 moved from Ostrov, Rus­sia to Os­r­blie, Slo­vakia for Feb. 22-28. The BMW IBU World Cup #8 orig­i­nally sched­uled for Tyu­men, Rus­sia was re­lo­cated to Kon­ti­o­lahti, Fin­land from March 6-12.

In Jan­uary, a group rep­re­sent­ing 19 na­tional anti-dop­ing agencies met in Ireland and wants to ex­clude Rus­sia from all in­ter­na­tional sports while al­low­ing in­di­vid­ual Rus­sians to par­tic­i­pate as “neu­tral prac­ti­tion­ers.”

Then in early Fe­bru­ary, the FIS Dop­ing Panel up­held the sus­pen­sions of four Rus­sian cross-coun­try skiers: Ju­lia Ivanova, Ev­ge­nia Shapo­val­ova, Alexey Pe­tukhov and Vylegzhanin. Th­ese four were among six Rus­sian cross-coun­try skiers pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended on Dec. 22, 2016 due to the find­ings of the Mclaren Re­port be­cause of al­leged dop­ing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

In Novem­ber, Sheik Ah­mad Al-fa­had Al-sabah, a Kuwaiti mem­ber of the IOC and pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees (NOCS), sug­gested re­forms to WADA and that the agency move to Switzer­land be­cause of its strong stands against Rus­sian dop­ing.

In ef­forts to keep WADA'S in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters in Mon­treal, mayor De­nis Coderre trav­eled to Switzer­land in Jan­uary to talk with IOC chair­man Thomas Bach.

In ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion for the strong sanc­tions im­posed on Rus­sian ath­letes, a group call­ing it­self the “Fancy Bears” hacked into WADA com­put­ers to leak con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion in Septem­ber 2016 about many lead­ing sports fig­ures world­wide. WADA claims that the at­tacks orig­i­nated from inside Rus­sia.

This leaked in­for­ma­tion typ­i­cally in­volved the var­i­ous ath­letes' Ther­a­peu­tic Use Ex­emp­tion (TUE) forms in an at­tempt to de­flect at­ten­tion from Rus­sia and sug­gests the prob­lem is not only in Rus­sia. The most pub­li­cized case was that of Sir Bradley Wig­gins, who won the 2012 Tour de France while ac­cess­ing the oth­er­wise banned steroid tri­am­ci­nolone.

Var­i­ous in­tel­li­gence re­ports also link the Fancy Bears to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment's ap­par­ent hack­ing at­tacks this sum­mer against the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in the U.S. Ac­cord­ing to al­le­ga­tions by the FBI, th­ese at­tacks rep­re­sented a for­eign power try­ing to in­ter­fere with U.S. pol­i­tics. Some sug­gest Fancy Bears leaked in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton that may have tipped the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in favour of Re­pub­li­can Don­ald Trump.

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